LIMA — A former student at Elida High School who was charged last year with inducing panic for alleged online threats against the school was sentenced to probation Monday in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Tristan Ascura, 20, was indicted by a grand jury in July of 2018 on charges of inducing panic, a second-degree felony, and making a terrorist threat, a felony of the third degree, after four fellow students told authorities he had threatened to “shoot it up” at Elida schools. In July he pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony count of making a false alarm.
The students, with whom Ascura was playing an Xbox video game online, reported threats the 19-year-old allegedly made about how he would shoot up the school when classes resumed in the fall. The Allen County Sheriff’s Office responded to the reports and on June 7, 2018, took Ascura into custody at his uncle’s home in Lima. Deputies discovered an AR-15 rifle and 500 rounds of 5.56 caliber ammunition at the residence.
Defense Attorney Patrick Farrell said during a change-of-plea hearing in July that his client was merely playing the popular video game when the controversy erupted. Featured within that video game world is a vacant school building that is a target for destruction, according to Farrell. Ascura was making reference to “shooting up” the school in the video when his remarks were made, the attorney insisted.
“It was all just a misunderstanding. Mr. Ascura had no intention of causing any harm to anyone,” Farrell said.
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Farrell said Acura spent nearly 14 months in jail “for a case that was blown entirely out of proportion.” The attorney said that since Ascura’s release from jail in July he has “been terminated from two jobs because of these charges. He describes himself as a victim and says he is looked at like a monster.”
Defense co-counsel Bill Kluge said Ascura “is no more dangerous to Elida schools than I am. Everybody jumped to conclusions. He’s done about 14 months (in jail) too long, in my opinion.”
Ascura told the court he is “very sorry for the misunderstanding that happened.”
Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser said school and police officials took the threat seriously “because, unfortunately, that’s the world we live in. The second we let down our guard is the second something happens.”
The judge ordered Ascura to serve two years on probation. As a condition of his sentence Ascura was ordered not to be on or around property owned by the Elida school district. He was also ordered to forfeit the rifle in question to law enforcement officials.